January of 2003, a waitress in Germany named Dagmar Polzin saw the picture of a convicted murderer while waiting at a bus stop in Hamburg. The photo was of Bobby Lee Harris, posted by an anti-death penalty group. Bobby Lee of North Carolina was on death row for stabbing his boss to death during a robbery. Polzin was profoundly influenced by the photo of Bobby Lee and fell in love that moment.
Later she said: “It was something in his eyes; there was this remorse, the sadness. I was attracted and knew he was the one.” In less than a year Polzin and Harris was engaged and she moved to North Carolina to live with his family. For many who read these words this story is astonishing; but if you saw the picture that Polzin fell in love with it would difficult to understand. Harris may be very charming with qualities of a good husband; but he is no leading man. Right now there are more than one hundred British and German women engaged or married to men on death row in the United States. The desire to love men convicted of murder is not limited to European women alone
Prison romance between Polzin is not an isolated incident. it doesn’t matter how extreme or appalling the crime with which the individual is convicted of, there is always a woman willing to stand by her man. The marriage vows “until death do us part” takes on a new and unique meaning when your spouse has a date with the executioner. Yes, it is very difficult for the average person to understand why so many well-educated, intelligent women are drawn to men convicted or murder and sentenced to death or to spend the rest of their lives behind bars.
For example, Scott Peterson recently convicted and sentenced to death for murdering his pregnant wife Laci. It was reported by officials at San Quentin Prison that in just a few hours after Peterson arrived on death row he received a proposal from a woman who wanted to be the next Ms. Peterson. And according to the warden his office received more than three dozen phone calls on Peterson’s first day at San Quentin from women pleading for his mailing address.
Several studies have shown that there is no shortage of women who dream of finding a husband on death row and the deadliest criminals get the most proposals. Take Richard Ramirez, the night starker, he murdered at least 14 individuals, robbed, raped, and beaten many more than that. During his trial he declared “hails Satan” and was considered the embodiment of pure evil. Still, dozens of women flocked to his side after he was arrested. And long lines formed outside the prison; letters arrived by the box filled. After courting several women from behind bars he married 40 year old Doreen Lioy, a freelance magazine editor, in 1996.
John Wayne Gacy, for instance, this guy, a convicted murderer, rapist who murdered thirty-three young boys; even he received many love letters from women. And I understand there’s a book published with a collection of letters that women sent to him; basically throw themselves at him seeking a relationship with him. John Wayne did have a relationship with a woman who was delusional and in denial who did not believe that he had committed the murders he was convicted of even though he was on death row about to be executed.
Carol Ann Boone moved from Washington State to Florida to be near Ted Bundy, who was convicted of killing over thirty women across the country. Boone and Bundy got married in 1980 and had one child. However, when she became convinced that Bundy was guilty of his crimes she moved away with their child.
These are just a few instances where women go to the extreme to love men, convicted of murder, on death row. Expert, in the field, say that many of these women do not believe that these serial killers are capable of committing the crimes which they are convicted. Expert like Shelia Isenberg says these women are in denial.
Shelia Isenberg the author of, Women Who Love Men Who Kill, did an in dept psychological analysis of women who are drawn to men who had committed violent acts. During her research Isenberg interviewed many of the women themselves, as well as psychologists, social workers, and prison authorities.
From Isenberg’s research it’s clear that these women are not all outcasts of society, uneducated ghetto residents, or trailer tramps. These women are teachers, nurses, social workers, waitresses, office workers, and housewives. Isenberg stated that many of the women have been victims of abuse and violence themselves. And there are those who know exactly what type of relationship they are getting into; but their capacity for denial, and the overwhelming desire for a safe, idealized, romantic fantasy of love eclipses their better judgment.
Isenberg went on to say that; “this phenomenon involve a complicated series of reasons. The first reason is that if you are in a relationship with a man behind bars for life or a man on death row, then you have a lot of control over the relationship. You can decide when to make the visit, when to accept the phone call, or if you will accept the call, and you are that man’s primary link with the outside world. So as you can clearly see it’s a very powerful position to be in.”
In addition to power and control, women in relationship with men behind bars receive nearly absolute attention from the inmate; with little or no distraction or serious competition. Men in prison have hours of free time to study the women they are involved. These men study the women’s vulnerability and personality traits and use this knowledge to manipulate the women to meet their immediate needs and desires. After all, serial killers and murderers were predators in the real world. Why would anyone think that they would change in prison?
Isenberg points out that; “when you have a man with notoriety, like a serial killer, like Ted Bundy, or Richard Ramirez, or the Melendez brothers, or someone like Scott Peterson, there is a different element. Then the women are also attracted to the notoriety and the fame, and this is her 15 minutes of fame.”
Final thoughts; the psychopath
There are many theories and speculations why certain women gravitate to men convicted of murder. Some experts say that these women are mentally-retarded. Why would any rational woman find anything appealing about someone who wants to rape you and murder you.
A more pathological scenarios is that women who love men who kill are women who have a background of abuse and getting involved in this type of relationship; is they way of undoing and re-writing the past. This time, however, she is in control and he’s behind bars with no means to hurt her. What is certain, however, the psychological motivation of these women are as varied as the women themselves.
The psychological constitution and the personality traits of serial killers and murderers, on the other hand, is no mystery; they are seasoned psychopaths. The psychopath is forever, and they live in a world of their own.
Even Freud, the father of psychoanalysis, had little to say about the psychopath. He did singled-out the psychopath as an exception to the average criminals. Freud said: “Among adult criminals we must no doubt accept those who commit crimes without any sense of guilt, who have either developed no moral inhibitions or who, in their conflict with society, consider themselves justified in their actions as psychopathic.”
The psycho-dynamic of the psychopath is defined in this manner; a lack of remorse or shame, poor judgment and failure to learn from experience, egocentricity and incapacity for love, poverty of affective reaction, and loss of insight
Women who seek out serial killers, murders, rapists, and society’s rejects should first take into account the personality of the psychopath. The psychopath is a rebel; his rebelliousness is designed to achieve goals satisfactory to him alone; he is incapable of vigorous effort, of any kind, for the sake of others. All his efforts, no matter what shape it takes, represent investments aimed to satisfy his immediate wishes and desires.
Women who seek intimate relationship and marriage with psychopath behind prison walls should be conscious that when he says “I do” he means I do for myself; everything that I do is to meet my immediate needs and desires.
Women should never forget; there are no prince among serial killers and murderers … only frogs.